Life finds a way: Nerdy views of Transition and “The One Year Slump”.
One of my very favorite movies as a child was Steven Spielberg's “Jurassic Park” with Jeff Goldblum in arguably one of his most sex-appeal oozing roles as the charismatic mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm who uttered the immortal line “Life, uhh, finds a way”.
To say that this applies to us all-regardless of who we are, where we come from, etc- goes without saying, but I have to keep these particular words in mind almost constantly lately as I begin to ponder the next steps going forward as a Transgender woman living in a Conservative State in a hateful country, surrounded by people who would prefer that I didn’t exist. Admittedly, like many of my brothers and sisters, I have had fleeting thoughts of granting them this wish, but I try to use both a bit of perspective as well as drawing upon whatever inner strength and critical thinking abilities I have in order to keep going.
If I go off on a brief tangent and take a moment to unleash my inner nerd, throwing in a dash of creative thought, I could use the analogy of the Velociraptors and their enclosure as a metaphor for life before and during transition. Before I came out as Trans, an observer would see so much of a cover (the foliage, fencing, concrete barriers) that they could barely acknowledge the potential chaos inside as my feelings of dysphoria (we can call that “The Big One”-the lead Raptor) bounced around inside, roaring and screaming in moments of agitation or when all other distractions were insufficient to keep from reminding me that I was truly confined to a cage.
To expand on this analogy a bit before I get to my point-
- A large part of society, and sadly our own Presidential Administration is not unlike the park’s game warden, Robert Muldoon who believes that the Raptors should be destroyed, as they are dangerous, uncontrollable, and are perceived as the embodiment of the very chaos that Dr. Malcolm forewarned of. (In a twist of irony, the Raptors ended up out-smarting and destroying Muldoon and showing him who was boss).
- “The Big One” -dysphoria- serves as the leader and director of the pack, which could lead the collective body to success or failure, victory or defeat, survival or ruin, or simply point to an objective.
- My coming out was the day the power went out and the fences could come down, allowing my metaphorical Velociraptors to venture out into the world for better or worse.
If you have seen this movie, you know that “The Big One” led the Raptors on a path that impacted or interacted with every aspect of the parks ability to function properly, in which they no doubt left a lasting impression on the survivors of the park, but ultimately led the pack to ruin in the form of the jaws of an angry Tyrannosaurus Rex, who crushed the pack leader after a brief struggle, and hurled what was left of it aside before roaring triumphantly.
I am just like that pack of Velociraptors. Powerful. Hungry. Influential. Impressionable. Pliable. Wishing to be free. The Big One is the dysphoria that drives my direction. The T-Rex is the seemingly insurmountable wall in my way that could just as easily crush me as it could ignore me while going back to feasting on hapless humans instead while leaving me alone.
All I truly want is for my own life to find a way. Of course, unlike the Raptors in the film, I do not intend to cause destruction or ruin on anyone. But I would like to go about my course without a T-Rex sized wall of obstacles, self-doubts, frustration or other detrimental things stopping my path. Essentially, that dysphoria can influence us, guide our path, allow for perspective and self development, or it can create a defeated attitude, blind our vision, take away from our goals, or if allowed- can essentially destroy us if we lose sight of our objectives or if we lose focus.
OK, if you are still here and I haven’t scared you away, I will step back from abstract thought for a moment and get serious.
I am a firm believer that for those of us in Transition- particularly those of use who are transitioning in our late 20’s,30’s or older, around the “one-year mark” can be both one of accomplishment but also very much a sort of an emotional slump or a time when one feels like an ugly duckling of sorts. Looking in the mirror and being ever aware of how much you have changed while having a long way to go yet, it is easy to feel that we are behind our peers, or that we are stuck in this neither male, yet neither female (in terms of appearance or presentation, this is different for everyone), or we are simply spinning our wheels.
I have definitely felt these things very recently, being just shy of 14 months on Hormone Therapy. I believe that pre-transition, ignorance was bliss to an extent- almost like being in the Matrix (two movie references in one write-up, boom!)- and that now living full time as my authentic self, I have a greater sense of self awareness and the ways in which dysphoria is visible or impacts my psyche.
I’m working towards making some big steps in Transition during this next year, but the waiting game that is Transition is alot like the aforementioned Velociraptors attacking the fences to find weak areas. We all yearn to be free, but that freedom has different levels.
- First the Raptors had to be cloned back into existence, a first level akin to simply existing before Transition.
- Secondly, they were moved (assigned) to their paddock or cage, where they knew they did not fit in and were not supposed to be.
- Thirdly, they fought, made noise, and stewed about restlessly as they became increasingly aware of their confinement and the restriction it put on their lives and existence as living beings.
- Fourth, when they *came out* and started exploring a new world around them, they were still confined to the island. They weren’t locked in a box per se, and they could interact and engage with the world for better or worse, but they were often viewed as monsters and still weren’t as free as they could potentially be. In a sense, I feel that this is where I am currently in my Transition.
The Fifth step might be the equivalent of gender affirmation surgeries as our “getting off the island” and allowing us to feel at peace with our selves and more fluidly and seamlessly blend in, or peacefully engage with the hostile world around us…assuming that we are nice Velociraptors that want to coexist and make nicey-nice with everyone instead of maiming and devouring them… *sigh* you get the idea, right? I’m not going off the deep end here?
OK…continuing on..(looks at floor, awkwardly).
My point is, that this journey can be one of both growth or, if we let it, utter ruin. I know that it is hard to be optimistic, in a sea of perfect and beautiful people who seem to have it all together or who seem to be better equipped for this journey than we are or attempting to live or thrive in a society that says we shouldn’t exist (like cloned dinosaurs…OK, I’ll stop!!!!), but that can’t get so overwhelming that we lose sight of our objectives or to let all that we have done so far lose its significance.
At the start, just being able to express one’s self or to be able to go outside dressed a certain way, or to get documents updated with a new name and gender marker were huge accomplishments- and still are. As we get further along, they tend to become old news and we become so focused on how far we have to go that the other things we have done up to this point are taken for granted. I know that I am very guilty of exactly this, and end up only seeing the huge daunting tasks ahead of us- when at one time just the thought of transitioning seemed impossible. We just have to keep going about this process one step at a time, whether small or large ones, and know that it all adds up over time and that somehow, life will find a way.
If you are interested in my story, you can follow me on Instagram under the user “avidlyallie”. I have taken the approach of leaving my entire pre-transition life up to the present visible. If you look back a ways, one can see every back and forth, up and down, subtle hint as I came to understand and admit who I was and take my first steps down the path to my current journey of self discovery.
Also, I am attempting to make 2019 the year in which I undergo several Gender Affirming Surgeries and in order to increase my chances of doing so, I have set up a GoFundMe to assist with paying my Insurance Deductible and Out of Pocket. If I can get these things covered at the time of the first surgery (FFS in the Spring), I will have a much greater and less expensive time getting other things done during the year. If you would be willing to read, help, or share the following:
I would be extremely grateful! Thank you for reading my piece here and please take care of yourselves!
-Alina Rose (Allie)